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Kamdem, Jean Seraphin (2010) The Dynamics of Bilingual Adult Literacy in Africa: A Case Study of Kom, Cameroon. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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This thesis investigates, describes and analyses adult literacy in local languages in Africa, with a focus on Kom, a rural community situated in the North West province of Cameroon. The thesis presents the motivations, relevance, importance and aims of the research; then gives an overview of the national and local backgrounds, namely Cameroon and Kom. A detailed description is given of the multilingual landscape and language use in formal education, the development of writing systems for Cameroonian languages, the official literacy activities at the national level, and the Kom language and community. The thesis discusses the philosophical and conceptual frameworks of the research, namely the naturalistic and critical approaches adopted, and the ethnographic approach used in data collection and the theoretical analysis. It also describes key literacy institutions in Cameroon, such as NACALCO and SIL. Four primary domains are investigated as they pertain to adult literacy: organisational issues, i.e. literacy implementation, didactic materials, literacy teaching, and social meanings and values mediated by literacy. The thesis explores the organisation and implementation of literacy in Kom, examining KLDC's operational life and activities, and the literacy classes and monitors. Local publications, such as pre-primers, primers, post-primers, arithmetic manuals, reading and writing books, various Christian publications, and some functional booklets on agriculture and health are discussed, examining their place and use in the Kom literacy programme. The thesis also examines the socio-cultural meanings and values of literacy in Kom. The research shows that adult literacy mediates some community identities and values, through local agency and the institutional development of the KLDC. Adult literacy in Kom also mediates new social statuses, and grants new socio-cultural power to neo-literates. For Christian neo-literate church goers, adult literacy mediates spiritual development. Through the written use and promotion of the local language, adult literacy also increases the symbolic capital attached to local languages.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 12 Oct 2020 17:32

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